Album reviews: Graham Coxon | Lightships | Pop | Folk | Jazz | Classical

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Our team of reviewers lend their ears to the latest offerings from the music world

Graham Coxon

A+E

EMI, £12.99

Rating: *****

The guitarist’s eighth solo record leaves Blur and Gorillaz sprawling in its dust, laying down the new template for modern rock music. His playing is primal, the riffs hewn out of steel hawsers, the lyrics acutely English: Running For Your Life is a car chase of a tune, with its talk of “not liking your Northampton shoes” and naked 40-something aggression.

The Truth is heavy enough to loosen Lars Ulrich’s fillings and make Lemmy’s falsers fall out. Coxon’s themes are of excess and pointlessness in his chosen profession, from the razor-slash chords of Advice to effervescent closer What’ll It Take, a tune with the chops to close the dance tent at T in the Park. “I’d write a new song while I was touring,” grumbles Coxon, “Man it was no fun, totally boring” – setting the tone for his positive disenchantment.

Bah Singer could be Mark E Smith after sending the latest incarnation of The Fall to rock school, with the police in hot pursuit. Quite, quite exhilarating.

Meet+Drink+Pollinate turns the Krautrock influences up a notch, in a fusion of glam nihilism to make you shudder, then Coxon takes a step back with his patented Tender strumathon in that old rock and roll ploy Ooh, Yeh, Yeh. It takes a 12-bar, stands it on its head and turns it into a punchball. Knockout.

Colin Somerville

Download this: Running For Your Life, What’ll It Take

POP

Lightships

Electric Cables

Geographic/Domino, £11.99

Rating; *****

What a complete and utter dream of a record. Founder member of Teenage Fanclub Gerard Love’s solo project delivers a sublime collection of sunny pop tunes, lovingly crafted and performed.

Like a musical weather forecast, it basks in song titles such as The Warmth Of The Sun, but what makes the temperature so mellow is the instrumentation and arrangements.

Silver And Gold is a mission statement, languid harmonies and the heat of an evening sun, while Girasol aspires to take you to places that Icarus simply could not reach. Sunlight To The Dawn is a charmer, like the Edge with all of Bono’s bombast surgically removed.

CS

Download this: Two Lines, Muddy Rivers

The Cathode Ray

The Cathode Ray

Stereogram, available online only

Rating: ****

Having earned their musical stripes over the past three decades in and around Edinburgh and Scotland, Jeremy Thom’s bands do not disappoint, and The Cathode Ray now also feature former Bluebells and TV21 bassist Neil Baldwin. Thom’s distant vocal recalls Howard Devoto, while songs such as Train swing with the poppy bounce of the Revillos. He is a sufficiently clever lyricist to work a word such as “ephemeral” into a song (Dispersal) without sounding contrived, and can make a song such as Around bright and breezy, with the help of guest writing and vocal duties from Paul Haig, on eight of the 11 songs included here.

CS

Download this: Around, Lost And Found

FOLK

Kim Edgar

The Ornate Lie

Quietly Fantastic Music, £12.99

Rating: ****

A quietly insinuating, beautifully performed CD by the young Edinburgh songwriter and pianist, accompanied by Steven Polwart on guitars, Kevin McGuire on bass and drummer/percussionist – and producer – Mattie Foulds. He also incorporates a brass section, harp and strings, and half a dozen harmony singers in Edgar’s powerful lyrical ideas, subtle but accessible melodies, moody and uplifting sound collages and her gentle vocal authority. Edgar’s songs have a maturing charm and grace well above the norm, and continue their tug at the heart and head after the CD ends.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: The Steamy Note

JAZZ

The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Their Last Time Out

Columbia/ Legacy, £9.99

Rating: ****

A year after announcing his plan to disband his quartet, pianist/composer Dave Brubeck led it through a final concert on 26 December, 1967, in Pittsburgh. It was Christmas time, his record company was closed, and it didn’t record the concert. This 90-minute, mono, private recording was found in 2009 in Brubeck’s house. It captures a group still at the peak of its powers; the magic combination of Paul Desmond’s lyricalalto sax perfectly complemented by Brubeck’s percussive approach.

Alison Kerr

Download this: I’m In A Dancing Mood, Take Five

CLASSICAL

Mozart

Horn Concertos

Deutsche Grammophon, £12.99

Rating: ****

The sleeve notes tell you much about the soloist on this recording, Alessio Allegrini. For the music, however, you have to rely on the CD alone, which features Allegrini as soloist with Claudio Abbado and the Orchestra Mozart.

Mozart’s concertos remain as demanding today as they ever were: to understand how Mozart’s composing for horn developed, No.1 should be listened to last of all.

There’s no denying the skill with which Allegrini performs Mozart’s four horn concertos, but the effect is cool throughout rather than enervating: it’s difficult to get excited about the horn as a solo instrument, and perhaps the effortlessness of Allegrini’s performance adds to that sense of detachment.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Concerto No 4: Rondo (Allegro Vivace)